Stella has changed the photograph that normally appears beside her column. But changing her photograph to one that closely mirrors how she presently looks will not undo the damage to her image and credibility occasioned by her comment that even an obscure farmer would do better than the President.
She earlier made a similar mistake when she labeled the President's comments at Babu John as racist politics. No longer so sweet and adorable, Stella in the process failed to realise the implicit stereotyping when she joined the bandwagon in so accusing the President.
Now, however, that the dust is settling, a light bulb has clicked in Stella's groovy head. The damage though has already been done, and no amount of damage control short of deep reflection and personal introspection can redeem the situation. What will definitely not also help is obfuscating her error by pointing fingers at the Peeper.
Her use of the example of an obscure farmer was intended as a counterpoint to the President. It was meant to say that even an obscure farmer could do better than the President. She may not have realised that she was also saying that even though an obscure farmer is not one that we associate with the qualities of a leader, the performance of the President is so woeful that even the obscure farmer would do better than the incumbent President.
I have no problems with Stella's opinion about the incumbent President. She is entitled to her views about his competence but why of all the possible unflattering nouns available, she had to settle on a farmer. Why put down farmers in the process? Why should an obscure farmer not do better than the President?
If the Peeper was speaking about someone who failed to answer a question, let us say in a quiz, and the Peeper said that even an idiot would have known the answer to a question, I would in fact be insulting the person who did not answer the question since I would be saying that even someone not renowned for his or her intelligence would have given the correct answer.
When Stella therefore deduced that even an obscure farmer would do better than the President, considering that her article was an outraged criticism of the Head of State, she was putting down the President by using as a counterpoint, an obscure farmer, thus putting down farmers. Get it Stella?
I fail to see why an obscure farmer should be considered less than competent to run a country. We who till the soil may not have roots that trace back to the philosopher kings of Rome but certainly we do not expect that a sassy young lady like Stella, with her groove and everything else still intact, would be so disrespectful to assume that we lack the common wisdom required for running a country. I am sure that while some of us may lack sophistication, we are endowed with enough common sense to know what works and what does not.
I see no reason why a farmer cannot aspire to the highest office in the land. President Lula was labor leader, President Chavez was a paratrooper and President Morales certainly did not come from the traditional oligarch class.
President Jagdeo was an unknown country boy when he was first made a minister in the PPP government. He comes from the very obscure background that people like to put down. And he has brought to government that people's touch. His background - his parents were kitchen garden farmers - has freed him of the “airs” of power; he is widely seen as someone who is approachable and willing to listen to the problems of the people.
Stella's opinion of the Head of State is certainly not complimentary. And to think that only a short while back when President Jagdeo was on a visit to Washington , she was eager to invite him out to dinner. Now that she thinks so poorly of his competence, that invitation must be far from her thoughts.
I wish to assure Stella that, when I said at the back of her mind must have been the thought that a Ramsaroop would do a wonderful job, I was not referring to her. I know that she has no political ambitions, just hopes that one of her clan can make a favorable impression on the local electorate.
I know also that she is no farmer. I do not expect her to know the difference between a banana and plantain stalk. But in Guyana dreams can be fulfilled. If the Pumpkin Eater can become the Plantain Chips King of Guyana, then even an obscure individual can aspire to the highest office in the land. And there is no disgrace in either.
Friday, March 17, 2006
No disgrace in being an obscure farmer - Peeping Tom
Here's Peeping Tom's column from today's Kaieteur News: